How to Fix a Refrigerator: Your Fridge Revival Guide

December 1, 2023

How to Fix a Refrigerator: Your Fridge Revival Guide

Home / Tips / How to Fix a Refrigerator: Your Fridge Revival Guide

Imagine coming home to a lukewarm Viking fridge – wilted veggies, questionable leftovers, and a looming grocery run. Don’t panic! This guide empowers you to become your own refrigerator repair hero. With these clear, step-by-step instructions on how to fix a refrigerator, you’ll be able to troubleshoot common issues, fix them yourself, and get your fridge humming happily (and saving you money) in no time.

1. Diagnosing the Cooling Problem

A refrigerator that isn’t cooling is a common issue. Begin with these checks:

  • Check the Thermostat Settings: Verify the fridge temperature is set between 37°F and 40°F, and the freezer is between 0°F and 5°F. Improper settings can cause malfunctioning.
  • Listen for the Compressor: The compressor, the heart of the cooling system, is usually near the fridge’s back. If it’s silent, it might not be running, indicating a potential issue.
  • Inspect the Door Seals: Worn seals let warm air in, reducing cooling efficiency. Close the fridge door on a piece of paper. If you can easily pull the paper out, the seals likely need replacing.
  • Test the Defrost System (Frost-Free Models Only): Check for excessive frost buildup within the freezer compartment, especially ¼ inch or more covering the evaporator coils. This could signal a defrost system malfunction.

2. Cleaning the Condenser Coils

Dirty condenser coils can impede cooling efficiency. Follow these steps to clean them:

  • Unplug the Refrigerator: Safety first! Always disconnect the refrigerator from the power outlet before performing any maintenance to avoid electrical shock.
  • Locate the Coils: Condenser coils can be found in different spots depending on your fridge model. They’re typically either at the back of the unit, near the bottom, or underneath the fridge. Consult your user manual if needed.
  • Use a Coil Brush: A coil brush with thin bristles is ideal for reaching between the condenser fins. Gently brush away dust, dirt, cobwebs, or pet hair that might be lodged there. Be careful not to bend the delicate fins.
  • Vacuum the Area: After using the brush, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to thoroughly remove any remaining dust and debris from the coils and surrounding area. Pay attention to the space between the coils and the floor or wall where dust bunnies love to hide.
  • Plug in the Refrigerator: Once cleaning is complete, reconnect the power cord and plug the refrigerator back in. Allow the fridge some time to resume normal operation. You should notice an improvement in cooling efficiency.

3. Checking and Replacing the Thermostat

If the fridge isn’t cooling, the thermostat could be faulty. Here’s how to fix a refrigerator by replacing the thermostat:

  1. Locate the Thermostat: It’s usually found inside the fridge or freezer compartment.
  2. Test with a Multimeter: Set the multimeter to the lowest ohms setting and test the thermostat terminals. If there’s no continuity, the thermostat needs replacing.
  3. Remove the Old Thermostat: Unscrew the mounting screws and disconnect the wires. Note the wire configuration for easy reinstallation.
  4. Install the New Thermostat: Connect the wires to the new thermostat and secure it in place. Replace the cover and restore power to the fridge.
  5. Check the Cooling Performance: Monitor the temperature to ensure the new thermostat is functioning correctly.

4. Inspecting and Fixing Refrigerator’s Evaporator Fan

The evaporator fan circulates cold air through the fridge. A faulty fan can lead to cooling issues. Here’s how to fix a refrigerator by inspecting and replacing the evaporator fan:

  1. Access the Evaporator Fan: The fan is typically located behind the rear panel of the freezer.
  2. Test the Fan Motor: Use a multimeter to check for continuity in the fan motor. If it doesn’t show continuity, it needs replacing.
  3. Remove the Fan Assembly: Unscrew the fan housing and disconnect the wiring.
  4. Install the New Fan: Attach the wires to the new fan motor and secure the housing back in place.
  5. Test the Fan Operation: Plug in the refrigerator and listen for the fan running when the compressor is on.

5. Clearing Blocked Air Vents

Blocked air vents can disrupt the airflow and cooling. Follow these steps to clear them:

  1. Identify the Vents: Locate the air vents inside the fridge and freezer compartments.
  2. Check for Blockages: Ensure no food items are obstructing the vents. Rearrange items to allow for clear airflow.
  3. Clean the Vents: Use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust or debris from the vent openings.
  4. Monitor Airflow: Ensure air can circulate freely to maintain even cooling throughout the fridge.

6. Addressing Water Leakage

Water leakage is a common issue that can stem from various sources. Here’s how to tackle it:

  1. Inspect the Defrost Drain: A clogged defrost drain can cause water to pool inside or under the fridge. Locate the drain hole and clear any blockages with hot water and a small brush.
  2. Check the Water Inlet Valve: If your fridge has a water dispenser or ice maker, the inlet valve might be leaking. Inspect the valve for leaks and replace it if necessary.
  3. Examine the Door Seals: Damaged seals can cause condensation and leaks. Check for cracks or gaps and replace the seals if needed.
  4. Level the Refrigerator: Ensure the fridge is level. If it’s tilted, water might not drain properly. Adjust the feet to level the appliance.

7. Repairing Refrigerator’s Ice Maker

Icemaker issues are often simple to fix. Follow these steps to troubleshoot:

  1. Check the Water Supply: Ensure the water supply line is not kinked or blocked. Straighten any bends and clear obstructions.
  2. Inspect the Ice Maker Assembly: Look for any visible signs of damage or wear. Test the assembly with a multimeter and replace it if it’s faulty.
  3. Adjust the Freezer Temperature: Make sure the freezer is cold enough for ice production, typically between 0°F and 5°F.
  4. Test the Inlet Valve: The valve controls the water flow to the ice maker. If it’s not working, replace it to restore ice production.

8. Troubleshooting Unusual Noises

Unusual noises can be annoying and indicate potential problems. Here’s how to how to fix a refrigerator making weird sounds:

  1. Identify the Sound: Determine if the noise is coming from the back, bottom, or inside the fridge.
  2. Check for Loose Components: Tighten any loose screws or panels that might be causing rattling or banging sounds.
  3. Inspect the Fans: Noisy fans might need cleaning or replacement. Ensure they are free from obstructions and operating smoothly.
  4. Examine the Compressor: Clicking or buzzing noises could signal a problem with the compressor or start relay. Replace the relay if necessary, and consult a professional for compressor issues.

9. Performing Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance helps keep your refrigerator running efficiently and prevents breakdowns. Here are the essential tasks:

  1. Clean the Coils: Clean the condenser coils every six months to maintain cooling efficiency.
  2. Check the Door Seals: Inspect and clean the door seals regularly to ensure they are sealing tightly and free from cracks.
  3. Defrost the Freezer: If your fridge isn’t frost-free, manually defrost it periodically to prevent ice build-up.
  4. Monitor Temperatures: Regularly check the temperature settings to ensure they remain within the recommended range.
  5. Keep Vents Clear: Avoid blocking air vents with food items to maintain proper airflow.

When to Call a Professional

Some refrigerator repairs are best left to qualified appliance repair technicians like Professional Viking Repair due to their complexity or potential safety hazards. Here are some key situations to consider:

  • Compressor Issues: The compressor is the heart of your fridge’s cooling system. Replacing it requires handling refrigerant, a hazardous material, and working with electrical components. A licensed technician has the expertise and tools to handle these tasks safely and properly.
  • Electrical Repairs: If you suspect any problems involving the electrical wiring or components within your refrigerator, call a professional. Electrical repairs can be dangerous for those without the proper training and experience. A qualified technician can diagnose the issue and fix it safely, avoiding the risk of electrical shock or fire.
  • Refrigerant Leaks: Refrigerant leaks pose a serious environmental and health hazard. They also require specialized tools and knowledge to repair. A certified technician can safely identify the leak source, recover and dispose of the refrigerant according to regulations, and repair the leak to restore proper cooling function.

In addition to these specific examples, consider calling a professional for reliable Viking Refrigerator Repair:

  • You’re uncomfortable performing any troubleshooting or repair steps yourself.
  • The problem persists after you’ve tried basic troubleshooting techniques.
  • You suspect a more complex issue beyond the scope of DIY repairs.

By seeking professional help for the repair of refrigerators, you can ensure your safety, protect your investment in your refrigerator, and get your appliance back in working order quickly and efficiently.


By following these step-by-step guides on how to repair a refrigerator, you can diagnose and fix the most common refrigerator problems yourself, ensuring your appliance stays in top working condition.

Check out our blog on Viking refrigerator leaking water from the bottom to learn how to diagnose and fix this common issue effectively.


Can I fix a refrigerator myself?

Yes, many common refrigerator issues can be fixed yourself with basic tools and a bit of knowledge. Problems like cleaning condenser coils, adjusting temperature settings, replacing door seals, and clearing blocked vents are usually manageable DIY tasks. However, more complex repairs involving electrical components or the compressor are best left to professionals.

What is the most common problem in the refrigerator?

The most common problem with refrigerators is inadequate cooling. This issue often arises due to dirty condenser coils, malfunctioning thermostats, blocked air vents, or faulty evaporator fans. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning coils and ensuring proper airflow, can help prevent cooling problems.

What causes a fridge to stop working?

A fridge can stop working due to several reasons, including a malfunctioning compressor, a faulty thermostat, or a broken start relay. Electrical issues, such as blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers, can also cause a fridge to stop running. Additionally, problems with the defrost system or refrigerant leaks can impede the refrigerator’s functionality.

High five if you learned something new today!

Contact Us